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On Golden Pond at the Grandel Theatre 

Ernest Thompson's gentle meditation on aging and family is surprisingly slight on real drama — confrontations are quiet and brief, and the worst thing that happens to anybody is a rainstorm. It's the sort of play that can fade from mind hours after it's over. And yet this Black Rep production, directed by Lorna Littleway, doesn't, thanks to the performances of Linda Kennedy and Ron Himes. As Ethel and Norman Thayer, the two actors find a simple, profound truth in their characters' relationship and bring it to sparkling life at every turn. Kennedy bounces across the stage while Himes stoops and persistently gazes out the windows, seemingly watching for death, which, he's certain, is lurking nearby. Every scintilla of their verbal sparring match reveals the depths of their love and trust. It's a remarkable, understated mutual performance that buoys the entire show. Without Himes and Kennedy On Golden Pond is maudlin; with them it's affecting and memorable. Through February 5 at the Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square. Tickets are $35 to $47. Call 314-534-3810 or visit www.theblackrep.org.

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